Hacking claims a ‘very, very serious matter’ says Alex Salmond


  By G.A.Ponsonby  
A claim that an email account belonging to the pro-independence campaign group Yes Scotland, may have been illegally hacked, has been described by First Minister Alex Salmond as a “very serious matter”.
Mr Salmond was responding to news that Scottish police are investigating what appears to be the unauthorised access of confidential emails by someone from outwith the Yes campaign.

Speaking to STV news, the First Minister said: “It’s a very, very serious matter indeed.  There’s a limit to what we can say because it’s now a police inquiry, a police investigation.

“What I would say is this: If it turns out, and of course it’s still to be determined, that a newspaper has been involved in some way, given everything that’s happened over the last few years with illegal hacking and the whole scandal that erupted from that; if that turns out to be the case then it would be a very, very serious matter indeed.”

Mr Salmond’s remarks were a reference to the phone hacking scandal that engulfed the newspaper industry after it emerged the mobile phone of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler had been hacked.  It later emerged that the phones of some politicians, celebrities and the relatives of dead soldiers had also been hacked.

The revelations led to the setting up of the Leveson inquiry which recommended strict new controls over newspapers.

At the inquiry Mr Salmond revealed that he himself had been a victim of illegal snooping when his bank account was accessed in 1999 by a journalist from a Sunday newspaper.

The First Minister said: “I believe my bank account was accessed by the Observer some time ago in 1999 and my reason for that is that I was informed by a former observer journalist,” he said. “The person concerned had detail which could only have been known by someone with full access to my bank account.”

The latest hacking claim emerged after a journalist contacted Yes Scotland with a media inquiry.  However, according to campaign group, the unnamed journalist appeared to have information which could only have come from the organisation’s private emails.

An investigation by Telecoms company BT uncovered evidence that the email account had been accessed from a computer unconnected to Yes Scotland and police were asked to investigate.

A spokesperson for Police Scotland said: “A complaint has been made by Yes Scotland regarding unauthorised access to an email account.  The matter is being looked into.”

The news follows the leaking of at least two confidential Scottish Government reports which fell into the hands of the anti-independence Better Together campaign before being passed to the BBC.